Feel as though your kids are a little too attached to their electronic devices? Take heart — the Dancetime Boys are on their way, and they’re “on a mission to get kids moving and grooving!” The pint-sized powerhouses of PB and Jam, cousins from Moorpark and Thousand Oaks, respectively, have been popping up all over the county — at parks, roller skating rinks, schools, markets and restaurants — to bring song and dance to the masses. And when they do, they’re guaranteed to get the party started.
The dynamic duo, along with their dance crew The Boogie Bunch, sing, dance and record these guerrilla-style performances for their YouTube channel, The Dancetime Boys. The concept is the brainchild of their grandfather, Peter Michael Escovedo III, the Dancetime Boys’ creator, director and executive producer.
And, yes, he’s that Peter Michael Escovedo, the percussionist, Emmy-nominated producer and musical director (most notably from The Wayne Brady Show and High School Musical: Get in the Picture) who has worked with Mariah Carey, Tina Turner, Justin Timberlake and Chaka Khan — just to name a few. His father is Pete Escovedo, of Azteca and Santana; his sister is the famous Sheila E.
“My wife and I thought it would be a great idea to encourage kids to exercise versus just sitting in front of the TV,” Escovedo explains of the show’s origins. “Our first idea was a kids’ version of Soul Train. When we started filming [PB and Jam], they were so funny and the dynamic between the two of them was just so incredible.”
Ultimately, Escovedo decided to build the show around them, with the premise that they would show up at different locations throughout Southern California and “get the kids up and dancing.” While Escovedo works with owners and management to get approval to bring in a film crew, the event itself is something of a surprise for bystanders. “We just show up,” he says with a laugh. “We can get away with it because they’re kids.”
A pilot for Dance Time Boys was shot in 2012, and got picked up right away by Los Angeles-based BabyFirst TV. “We were up and running at that point,” Escovedo says. “We chose a lot of mom-and-pop shops — it was a great opportunity to promote small, locally owned businesses.” Local locations included Gull Wings Children’s Museum in Oxnard, Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant in Ventura, Rocket Fizz in Camarillo and the Santa Paula Airport. The show was extremely popular, reaching millions of viewers from 2014 to 2016.
PB says that he was both nervous and excited at the prospect of singing and dancing for the camera. “It was my first time introducing and performing,” he recalls. “It was weird. [Escovedo] would say, ‘Look in the camera and pretend those are the kids,’ and I didn’t really get it at first. But it’s been fun doing it.” Jam admits that repeating the same scene for multiple takes can be boring, but when the final product turns out well, it’s worth it. “It’s really fun, and when you have to do it over sometimes — it’s ok.”
The kids were 5 when the first Dance Time Boys episodes were filmed. As they got older, their popularity continued unabated, but they were moving out of BabyFirst TV’s 0-5-year demographic. So they started posting music videos and other content to YouTube, to stay “in step” with the viewers growing up with them. Now, fans can follow them on the Dancetime Boys YouTube channel, where kid-friendly videos enjoy hundreds of thousands of views.
Escovedo describes the Dancetime Boys as a family business. “We have multiple generations of Escovedos involved,” he says. His father has appeared in a few videos. His sons (and the boys’ fathers) are choreographer Peter Michael IV and cameraman Brendan. (On the dotted line, PB and Jam are Peter Michael Escovedo V and Brendan Escovedo Jr.) Jam’s sister, 16-year-old Taleia, sings on the demos from which the boys learn. Boogie Bunch dancers include PB’s brother, Kingston; Jam’s sister, Tamya; and family friend Tati. “It’s really cool seeing all of what my father has done with his career and watching him enjoy the kids’ performances,” Escovedo says.
The Dancetime Boys, who recently celebrated their 10th birthdays (PB on Dec. 4 and Jam on Dec. 12), have ramped up their live performance schedule, appearing at Ventura YMCA for Healthy Kids Day in April, at the Janss Marketplace over Thanksgiving weekend and at the Camarillo Christmas parade. They are set to perform this upcoming weekend at The Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks.
Is a grown-up career in dance in the cards for PB and Jam? It’s a little early to say.
“Sometimes I feel like I might want to dance, but not as my main job,” PB says. “Dancing and creating choreography might be something I want to do.” Jam says, “I might want to do [dance] or sports. I like football, soccer and basketball.” Both are also learning instruments: PB plays the trumpet while Jam has taken on the alto saxophone.
Whether it’s a lifelone pursuit or not, the Dancetime Boys are having a blast doing what they do best: moving, grooving and getting everyone to play along.
See the Dancetime Boys on Friday, Dec. 23, at 11:30 a.m. at The Oaks Mall, 350 W. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/DanceTimeBoys.